Public outrage prompts Montana hospital to fire nurse with felony child porn record

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Culbertson, Mont.-based Roosevelt Medical Center officials said Oct. 9 they fired a nurse one week after receiving backlash during a community meeting regarding the decision to rehire her after she spent time in prison on a child pornography charge, according to the Billings Gazette.

The hospital's board of directors met during a closed-session meeting Oct. 9 to review community members' comments regarding their decision to rehire Denise Carlson, RN, a registered sex offender, that were made during a community meeting Oct. 3, RMC CEO Audrey Stromberg said in an Oct. 9 statement obtained by the Billings Gazette.

The hospital held a meeting Oct. 3, inviting the community to share their thoughts on Ms. Carlson's rehiring. RMC initially announced their decision to rehire her in September, and Ms. Carlson's first day of work at the hospital was Oct. 1, according to the report.

Ms. Carlson pleaded guilty to a single charge of receiving child pornography on her computer in June 2009, admitting to downloading sexually explicit images and videos of minors for nine years before federal investigators traced her activities on a file-sharing program in 2008. She was released from federal prison in 2016 after serving more than six years.

The Montana Board of Nursing issued Ms. Carlson a probationary nursing license in November 2016, according to information from the state's licensing database obtained by the Billings Gazette. Board members discussed her case again in July 2016 and deemed her a "low risk" danger to society. The board ultimately granted Ms. Carlson a restricted license on the condition she continue mental health treatment and monitoring.

The terms of her release — and potential return to work at RMC — also stipulated Ms. Carlson follow restrictions placed on her computer use at the hospital. The nursing board also said Ms. Carlson was to primarily work with long-term patients at RMC, according to Ms. Stromberg.

Court documents obtained by the Billings Gazette state Ms. Carlson had no previous record of sex crimes or child abuse, and that she passed a polygraph test and had letters on her behalf from friends and family indicating she had been a competent, caring mother, the report states.

To access the full report, click here.

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